An Irish system of algebra that helped to land a man on the moon, and the geometry of a Dublin sculpture are just some of the stories featured in three new city tours, that also get people to spot symmetry in Georgian buildings, measure extinct Irish fossils, and see if Wolfe Tone’s statue is out of proportion!
The new ‘Dublin by Numbers’ trails are packed with puzzles and things to do at each stop, all celebrating the mathematics around us every day. Designed for families and schools (ages 6-plus) the trails were launched today, October 17, 2011, by meteorologist Dr Evelyn Cusack, in the Natural History Museum.
An enthusiastic Dr Cusack, deputy director of forecasting in Met Eireann, said that “maths teaches us priceless skills in problem-solving – if people are mathematically informed they will make better economic and political decisions. The rigours of maths would also help us not to be hoodwinked by pseudoscience and trickery – such as seasonal long-range weather forecasts!” She added that “Children love maths puzzles and challenges and will have genuine fun, as well as intellectual stimulation, on these trails.”
The trails were developed by science writer Mary Mulvihill, whose company Ingenious Ireland specialises in walking tours with a science twist. “These trails make a great outing for families, school groups. They take you to both familiar and less well-known places, and you’ll see them differently, with our mathematical lens.”
Several Irish scientists are featured, including two women mathematicians with Irish connections and as part of this project, Ingenious Ireland is also producing an audio guided tour of the world’s greatest science walk, from Dunsink Observatory to Broom Bridge on the Royal Canal, retracing the steps of Ireland’s greatest scientist, William Rowan Hamilton, on the day he invented quaternions.
The activity trails are free to download, thanks to support from project partners: Discover Science and Engineering (DSE), Intel, the Centre for the Advancement of Science and Mathematics Teaching & Learning (CASTeL), and Engineers Irelands’ STEPS programme.
Dr Pádraig Ó Murchú, manager of Education & Research at Intel Ireland, welcomed the trails as “a fun and interactive way to introduce young children to maths and numbers. Numbers and maths are the building blocks for science and technology, and if we want to become a knowledge society we can only do that if we are scientifically literate and numerate.”
DSE Director, Peter Brabazon, said it “is a great way of learning maths by exploring it directly in the world around us”, adding that the project strongly supports the work of Discover Science and Engineering, which is about finding new ways to make the public aware of opportunities for learning and careers in science, maths and engineering.
The trails were developed in conjunction with experts from St Patrick’s College Drumcondra: Dr Dolores Corcoran, of the Mathematics Education Unit, and Dr Maurice O’Reilly, head of the Mathematics Department.
The Dublin by Numbers initiative was launched as part of Maths Week and Innovation Dublin 2011.
Leixlip school children are pictured with meteorologist Dr Evelyn Cusack at the ‘Dublin by Numbers’ launch
The students, from Scoil San Carlo in Leixlip, have some fun at the launch of the new maths initiative
About the trails
The richly illustrated activity sheets are free to download, and packed with activities, riddles and puzzles, and make a perfect outing for a family or school group. The first trail –Art, arches and architecture… around St Stephen’s Green – is available now, with two more following shortly: #2 explores Merrion Square and Georgian Dublin, and #3 connects Merrion Square to TCD’s Science Gallery, via the National Gallery and Westland Row train station.
About Mary Mulvihill & Ingenious Ireland
A science writer and broadcaster with over 20 years’ experience, Mary set up Ingenious Ireland last year to develop guided tours with a science twist. The company has won several grants for its work, including a geology walking tour of Dublin, and audio guides to the Hill of Tara, the National Botanic Gardens and the Royal Irish Academy. Full details at www.ingeniousireland.ie / email@example.com
Intel is a world leader in computing innovation. The company designs and builds the essential technologies that serve as the foundation for the world’s computing devices.